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How to give yourself a better chance of passing your exams

Exams are always stressful, but they need not be. If you start early and constantly work at it you can easily walk into the exam hall knowing all that you need to know to do well. Here are a few tips I use to help me study for an exam:

Studying for the exam

Get Information about the Exam.

About one or two weeks before your exam make sure you know details about your exam, know what time of the day it is and where it is (see below for a bit more on this). Also be sure to find out how the questions are structured and what sort of questions they will be, short answer long answer or multiple choice. Lastly make sure you know what your exam will be about! Its better to revise topics that are definitely coming up rather than some that might.

Space out your Study Regime.

You may think you can leave everything till last minute and do really well in your exam. Well you may have done in the past with GCSE’s and maybe even A-level, but your degree is much harder. You should space out all your studying, giving yourself time to cover your course twice at the minimum. You should then leave time to review and answer practice questions too. In my experience a good 2 hours put in everyday is 10x better than 24 hours solid.

Divide the Workload.

It is a good tip in general to always divide a large task into smaller “bitesize” chunks. This way you can break-down the workload and it does not seem as daunting. Try to set yourself a goal of completing one chunk a day. One chunk could be One chapter or a whole topic, its up to you to decide.

Review Review Review.

If you really want to remember everything that you are studying be sure to review everything you do constantly as you go! Once you finish a section be sure to leave it for a while and then review it an hour or so later. This is by far the best method to truly remember things.

Word Cards.

Sometimes it is important to be able to recall word-perfect definitions for certain words on your course, it can score you a few easy marks on certain occasions. The best way to revise these is to make word cards, which you can quickly flick through to remind you.

Another thing I used to do is write key bits of information on Post It notes and stick them around my room in places I looked frequently.

I also super, super, SUPER recommend you read Derren Brown’s ‘Tricks of the Mind’ and use some of the memory techniques. They are really helpful if you have a lot of specific stuff to recall, like case names for your LL.B.

Predict Questions.

As I said in an early post about reading your course material, it is always important to keep asking yourself questions as you go through your textbook. Try just writing some possible exam questions at the side of your text while you read. Its great for revision later as you can try and find the answers to these questions.

For law students, the Q & A books are awesome. They give you common questions and sample answers as you might write them.

For other subjects, reading some of the example essays on this site will provide inspiration for your own answers. There are so many topics covered here with example business essays, law essays and much more. Whatever you’re studying, you’re likely to find work to help you! There’s also a comprehensive range of guides to the different types of essay. It’s really important to understand what the examiner is looking for when they ask, for example, for you to ‘Discuss’ a topic, or ‘Compare and contrast‘.

One Topic, One Page.

Try making a summary of all your notes for a topic on one page, a sort of extreme summary page. These are great for last minute revising before you exam and help you keep the key ideas of a subject fresh in your mind before an exam.

Test Yourself.

Studying for an exam

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Remember revision and knowing the content is only half the battle. You have to be able to answer what the question is asking of you, and demonstrate you know your subject matter. Testing yourself also remind you of things you may have forgotten.

Remember don’t leave it all till the last minute! If you want to do the best you possibly can study hard and work at it! It doesn’t just come to anyone easily, you need to work! Good luck in your exams and don’t worry!

I recently read a great book on the subject which I wanted to recommend to you. It’s called Smarter Student Planner. It deals with everything from study skills to time management and to-do lists. This is really a must-read as a student!

Need-to-know before the exam

Listen, I know that there are so many things that you think you need to do for your exam but the FIRST and MOST IMPORTANT thing you should do is to actually find out about the exam itself! You would be surprised about the number of people who revise so hard for the actual exam and don’t even know where the hell the exam is 20 minutes before it! Here are a few tips that I have learnt over the years:


I can not stress this point enough! In all seriousness I have nearly missed an exam that I studied hard for, purely because I found out 30 minutes before the exam that it was going to be on the other side of campus! So first and foremost check out WHERE and WHEN your exam is. Once you have done this plan your route to get there. It is always worthwhile turning up early for an exam rather than turning up late, so make sure you are there 15 minutes before it starts.

Check what time it starts AND what time doors open.

You may not realise this, but in most cases before you sit an exam there will be two times that you really need to take note of. Firstly there is the time that the actual exam starts. Secondly there is the time that the doors open. This time is as important as the time the actual exam starts, since you do not want to be turning up 2 minutes before the exam is due to start. Ideally you want to time it so that you get there just before doors open.

Find out how long the exam is

This may seem like a no brainer but you need to know if you are going to have a short exam or a long exam. This will help you structure your time management. Trust me, failing to do this WILL cost you exam marks if you end up running out of time towards the end.

Learn what types of questions there will be

Make sure you always check with your teacher/professor on how the exam will be structured and what sort of questions will turn up. It may have only long answer questions or only multiple choice. This will help you study for your exam and help you with your time management during the exam.

Know what you need to take

There is nothing worse that turning up to an exam without having a piece of equipment you need. It takes two seconds and saves a shitload of stress if you just check what you need! This is really important if the exam you are sitting has any maths involved. It is always a good idea to have a separate pencil case with everything you may need inside, and use it only for exams.

In the exam…

The first thing you should do when looking at the paper is read the instructions carefully. Too many students lose a heap of marks because they answer the wrong combination of questions, or they don’t pay attention to how many marks are available for a particular section. So read it carefully and make a plan. Figure out which questions you have to answer and how many marks are available for those questions. Split your time up before you start writing and keep an eye on the clock.